Third quarter is in the books, and we are heading into the last few months of the year. And what a year it has been. Investors have been on the edge of their seats with the election in a few short weeks and no end to COVID-19 in sight. It is difficult to make many year-end plans, but time is running out to stay ahead of your 2020 goals.
The calendar pages don’t stop turning, and soon we will be out of time to make important financial decisions. Use this time while you are waiting for the election to be determined, or for a vaccine, to take care of things you may have postponed.
Start with updating your financial plan. You may have put this off waiting for in-person meetings to resume. In reality, you can see your own screen easier with web sharing capabilities these days so take advantage of this down time and update your financial advisor. It could have a significant impact on investment decisions going forward. But first you need to see where you stand on income, expenses, taxes and goal planning.
Next take a deeper look at taxes. Hopefully, you have filed your 2019 tax return by now, and you immediately get to turn around and address 2020 taxes. There are only a few months left to take advantage of year-end tax planning such as:
• Maximize your 401(k) plan contributions at work
• Fund your self-employment fund for earned income this year
• Pay your estimated taxes if needed
• Look at your portfolio and tax loss harvest or realize gains while you are in a low bracket
• Consider Roth conversions if you are in a low bracket this year, or if you believe taxes will increase.
Don’t forget about open enrollment at work or for Medicare. Once you have your plan updated, it should provide clarity around what benefits you need.
Estate and elder care planning are also important pieces of your financial picture that often get pushed to the back burner. Review your estate documents, health care agent and financial power of attorney. Verify your beneficiaries on all of your accounts, including your bank accounts. Did you purchase something this year outside of your trust or your will? Property, vehicles and collectibles all need to be identified in your estate planning documents to ensure proper passing of ownership. This is also a good time to determine if you have the right insurance coverage for your household items, such as artwork, jewelry, antiques and collectibles.
Review your elder care plan with your family members. Do you have proper insurance or family support? Have you made your wishes known and do you know the wishes of your parents? There may be little or no warning when extra care is needed so it is important to have a plan in place.
Finally assess your current portfolio and see if it still addresses your goals. Determine if you are on track for retirement, travel, large purchases, education funding and other significant wishes. Revisit your risk tolerance for expected volatility in the coming weeks and months. Keep your eye on the long-term strategy to avoid making emotional decisions in the short term that may derail your goals over time.
Don’t wait for things to happen to you, take a proactive view of where you are and keep your house in order. This will help you adjust as needed once you have a solid plan in place.
Patricia Kummer has been a Certified Financial Planner and a fiduciary for over 30 years and is Managing Director for Mariner, LLC d/b/a Mariner Wealth Advisors, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. Please visit www.marinerwealthadvisors.com for more information or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website (www.adviserinfo.sec.gov). Securities offered through MSEC, LLC, Member FINRA & SIPC, 5700 W. 112th Suite 500, Overland Park, KS 66211.
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